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Marketing Tips

The Horrible and the Miserable: The Challenge to Keep Marketing

By Theda C. Snyder

Supposedly, there are two kinds of people in the world, the horrible and the miserable. Let’s stretch this idea for marketing by two kinds of lawyers.

The Fortunate Horribles

Some lawyers are so busy they can’t imagine finding another minute for marketing; call them the “horrible.” Many people wouldn’t even consider this a problem. “You’re busy, aren’t you? You’re making money? So what’s the problem?”

The rainmaker knows that it’s important to manage a practice to shoot for better quality clients and more remunerative cases. It’s easy to get so bogged down with the demands of small cases that you can’t find time to market.

Set aside a night or a weekend to simply brainstorm the cases you want and possible ways to go after those cases. Try to do this with another person. Your work partner is the obvious choice if you have one. For solos, this might be your staff, your spouse, a friend or a business coach.

Here’s the hard part: If you are truly stretched as far as possible, you may have to turn away the smaller cases to allow you to use resources for the better ones. See if you can refer them to someone miserable (keep reading) where you can earn a referral fee without shouldering the main part of the case management load.

Another aspect of this problem is the associate who is crazy busy with no time to build a personal book of business. This person should look at each work assignment as a marketing opportunity.

How can you leverage the knowledge you are building for marketing purposes? Develop strong relationships with clients. See if you can cross-market existing clients to others in your firm by thoroughly learning your client’s situation. Consider turning your written work into a blog post or law journal article. You’ve already done most of the labor. Get involved in your client’s trade associations. Staying close to your existing practice will allow you to more easily find opportunities to market and develop your own client base.

Les Miserables

Now let’s turn to the miserables. Maybe you’ve just started your own practice, and you have time on your hands. Maybe you’ve had your practice for a while, but revenues have dried up. You stay at your desk waiting for someone to contact you while you try to figure out where to go from here.

Try to do some market research. What are the hot areas? Peruse legal and general interest periodicals to get a sense of direction. What do you need to do to be able to market and competently practice in those areas? Can you talk about new developments in privacy law? How knowledgeable are you about the effects of ESG compliance? Can you see opportunities involving climate change?

If you choose multiple practice areas, make sure they are complementary. Don’t stretch yourself too thin. Consider volunteering your services to a nonprofit organization or another lawyer (someone horrible?) to learn the practical side of a practice area. Investigate books and online resources about legal marketing to inspire your creativity and motivation.

Horrible or Miserable, You’re on Your Way

Whether you’re horrible or miserable, the key is setting aside the time to create a plan. Calendar time to monitor your progress and plan new initiatives just as you would calendar a meeting or hearing. That can be as little as spending five minutes at the start or end of your workday using a marketing planning journal.

Illustration © / Feldcomm

A Marketing Journal Designed for Lawyers

From Theda C. Snyder and Attorney at Work, the Lawyer’s Marketing Journal is the perfect place to capture all your great ideas, write down your daily tasks, notes and accomplishments, track your progress — and express gratitude. Every element of this guided journal has been designed to both motivate you and keep your marketing efforts on track.  Order one (or three) today.

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Teddy Snyder Theda C. Snyder

Theda “Teddy” Snyder mediates civil disputes, workers’ compensation and insurance coverage cases, including COVID-19 related coverage disputes, in person or by video. Teddy has practiced in a variety of settings and frequently speaks and writes about settlements and the business of law. She was a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management and is the author of four ABA books, including “Women Rainmakers’ Best Marketing Tips, 4th Edition” as well as “Personal Injury Case Evaluation” available on Based in Los Angeles, Teddy can be found at and on Twitter @SnyderMediation.

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